This past week I have gotten slammed at work - late meetings, lots of grading - and I have had little energy left at the end of the days. I'm starting to realize that even when the only children in question are our own kids, we need help getting them outside.
Over the weekend we got our usual times outside. We went sledding on Saturday, I got in my dose of x-country skiing Sunday morning, the kids roller-skated on the parking lot between snow patches, and I soaked up some sunshine in our back yard. All these times were wonderful, and I felt happy doing them.
But I'm starting to find it really frustrating that even in a school in a low-crime neighborhood, with easily 50 acres of land around it, my kids hardly touch the grass (or snow) outside the school on an average day. I would *pay* to have my children get cold and wet for 15 minutes during the school day, but the bummer is that I have to be at work so I can't get there and help it happen. If I were a stay-at-home mom, I'd like to think I'd volunteer to go to school and help get kids outside, but I'm not, and I can't.
You'd think afterschool programs could solve this. In warm, nice weather their afterschool program takes them outside, but somehow snow, around here, implies something horrible about the weather, as if it is oobleck out there or something similarly sinister. But most days, if I want the girls to get outside time right after school, I have to come home and make it happen myself. I pay for it with lost work time, a price that might or might not turn out to be really high, come time for my next contract renewal.
The last time the girls had good, regular recess was in Chicago. The weather was unquestionably worse, and the neighborhood was tougher, requiring both more snow gear for the kids and more vigilance from the adults. Here, it should be easy, but instead it seems that in the suburbs we and our children are less weather resistant, less resilient. I fear that the bill for this luxury will come due over the course of entire lifetimes for our children. I get to walk across a lovely campus 2-4 times a day, and my children are indoors the whole time.
I don't have a village here yet. I've got some wonderful friends, most all of whom I see only after a trip in a car. The girls have excellent teachers, a well supported school, good teams. Emily's wonderful 2nd grade teacher, Sandy Clements, takes the kids on walks around the school sometimes when they don't get outside recess, and compliments Emily on the days she gets to walk home (when I'm leaving work ridiculously early). We are on a low-traffic street, with good neighbors. I must be greedy. But I really just want more adults in our kids' daytime lives to help me get them outside more. I want the school, the afterschool to see what we're all missing in here: the snow, the mud, the rain, and the oobleck, wherever it is.